Women Writers Promoted by Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

Ever wonder why there are less articles about women than about men on Wikipedia? The answer might surprise you. Only 10% of the approximately 44K volunteer writers are female. The majority of articles are about men, written by men. This comes from a study done by West Virginia University’s (WVU) Director of Strategic Library Initiatives, Carroll Wilkinson. She planned and coordinated the first Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon through a WVU downtown library, focusing on editing and creating Wikipedia articles about women of color in West Virginia.

She points out that previous articles on women, written by Wiki writers that are men, tend to have gender bias toward the male viewpoint unconsciously embedded in them. Ms. Wilkinson asked Kelly Doyle to manage the event. Wikipedia created her job at WVU to enhance shared knowledge of West Virginia’s history of influential women of color. Ms. Doyle made the statement: “Our goal here is really to just, and my position really, is about adding content about women to Wikipedia and making that information as accurate as it can be… My position is the Wikipedia-in-residence for gender equity, so that’s what all of my events focus around, adding content about women from West Virginia and hopefully expanding that out to Appalachia.”

One of the articles being prepared by Stewart Plein, WVU’s rare books curator, is on an important Harlem Renaissance poet originally from West Virginia named Annie Spencer. Most of her poetry came from her gardening work, a pastime for which Ms. Plein also has a passion. She had this to say of the project: “I learned about this book that was published in 1977, two years after her death… The author interviewed her the last year she was living. And, after reading that book, I learned she was from WV, which I thought was really interesting.” Another great African American stateswoman they are preparing an article on is Elizabeth Simpson Drewry. She was the first West Virginia State Legislator of African American descent. They also plan an article on Booker T. Washington’s first wife, Fannie Smith.

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